Source: Perspective | Universities are also to blame for the GOP’s ‘grad student tax’, by Sarah Arveson
Charging us tuition, only to waive it, helps to define us as students instead of the essential workers we are.
not making graduate students pay tuition reflects the material reality of graduate school: We do valuable research and teaching labor for the university. It would be preposterous to bill us for this — akin to asking medical residents to pay the hospital for the right to train there.
In the grant application, the professor proposes the budget for the laboratory, including equipment, supplies, and salary and benefits for whoever works in the lab — including graduate student researchers like me. Universities then take a huge amount off the top. Yale, for example, charges the public an additional 67.5 percent “overhead” fee on grants that faculty bring in.
While tuition looks mainly like an artifact of accounting for most graduate students in the humanities and social sciences (where the university just pays itself for tuition), in the natural and applied sciences, tuition is a way for the university administration to get more money out of the public. As the university bulletin explains, “for a standard [research assistant] appointment in addition to the salary, the grant pays half of the tuition.” … Again, this is money that the public pays universities for granting graduate students the privilege of working for them to create more wealth for those same universities.